You’ve probably heard it said that the only constant is change. It seems, as we go through the daily routine of life, that not much will change. We will go to work or do our chores. One Monday will turn into another Monday. Weekends will blur into a rapid succession that seem to be like every other weekend.
Only a few things make time really seem to stand still. Death makes time stop. If you’ve had a close loved one pass away, you probably remember the interminable waiting that took place between that person’s death and the time the last visitor left the house after the funeral. Though that may only be a few days time, it will seem like you’ve haven’t taken a breath in forever.
Car wrecks, even if you survive, seem to stop time. That split second of time from when you realize the wreck is inevitable until you regain control of your body afterward seems to happen in start and stop fashion. Every detail is vivid. You know you can’t stop what’s about to happen, yet your mind can think a million thoughts before your vehicle collides with something.
On Friday night, I went to Wilmington to a concert. As we stood outside the venue waiting for the doors to open, a man and woman on a motorcycle made the turn onto the street in front of us. As the driver accelerated, he cut loose and the motorcycle made all manner of noise as he sped up the street with a woman riding on the seat behind him.
As he passed, I turned to my daughters and remarked that he ought not to be speeding like that on a downtown street. My daughters looked up at me to say something. Behind them, I could see the motorcycle approaching the next intersection where he had a green light. A van, coming in the opposite direction, turned left, into his path.
The motorcyclist was going too fast to avoid the collision. The low-pitch, crunching sound of the vehicles thudding together caught the attention of others who were standing in line with us. I watched as the woman on the back of the motorcycle shot out of view, obscured by a building at the corner of the intersection. She looked like she had been shot out of a gun because the trajectory of her body was so straight.
The driver of the motorcycle flew into the air, high enough that I could see a second-story window behind him as he twirled in the air.
I monitored Twitter and the local newspaper in Wilmington over the next few days to see if there was any report on the crash, but I saw nothing. One of the performers at the concert that night told the crowd that both people were going to be OK. I’m not sure where she got her information, but the lack of news leads me to believe she was right.
I tell you all that because we’ve had reports in this newspaper in recent days and weeks about people who died in car wrecks. Somewhere, there are families going through that same time stoppage I described earlier. In their cases, they didn’t have time to prepare themselves for the passing of an elderly loved one on their deathbed.
My children, who really aren’t children any more, question why I need to know when they are coming home each night when they go out. I simply cannot explain to them in a way they understand that time is precious. It’s important. They don’t have that concept of time coming to a screeching halt. They only need to feel it once to know it’s a feeling that is about as powerless a moment as there is in life.
I’m glad they were looking at me on Friday night when the wreck happened in Wilmington. I didn’t know any of the people involved. But I had that eerie sense of time coming to a screeching halt once again.